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Rare Auction Bridge Book For Sale

Bridge Developments from The Higher Grammar of Bridge

by Edmund Robertson, A. Hyde-Wollaston

Copyright 1904By BRENTANO'S

Entered at Stationer's HallThe Plimpton Press Norwood Mass.

If you're a student of the history of bridge, this book is required reading. It's about auction bridge, which was "the third step in the evolution of the general game of bridge...its predecessors were whist and bridge whist."

Auction bridge was very different from contract bridge. It's fascinating to see how narrow the thought processes of auction bridge were compared to the game we play today. It makes you appreciate how much we owe Harold Vanderbuilt for bringing bidding out of the dark ages.

The Saturday Review, vol 103, 16 March 1907, page 329, describes the authors' method of hand evaluation:

"The Robertson Rule, or as it is sometimes called the Robertsonian Rule, is a formula invented some years ago by an Indian bridge player, Mr Edmond Robertson, to assist vacillating players to determine if a hand is strong enough for a declaration of No Trumps, by assigning a figure value to the high cards in the hand. This formula first made its appearance in a little book entitled "The Robertson Rule and Other Bridge Axioms" by E Robertson and A Hyde-Wollaston, published in Calcutta in 1902, and republished in 1904 in New York, under the title of "Bridge Developments."

The Robertson Rule was surprisingly sophisticated compared to the point count methods that followed. It was more than just a way of determining a hand's suitability for a notrump declaration.

The chapters:Description of the GameGeneral Principles of the DeclarationThe Robertson RuleSporting No-TrumpersThe Spade ShieldThe Blind Lead at No TrumpsThe Blind Lead With a Declared TrumpThe Discard DilemmaThe Mathematics of BridgeSynopsis of the DeclarationsThe Rules of BridgeGlossary of Terms Used at Bridge

The book is beautifully printed and bound. The "original blue cloth" edition has "gilt-stamping to the front board and spine" and "all edges gilt." It's printed in two colors (black and red). The hand diagrams show individual cards with suit symbols only, no AKQ... or numbers on the corners.

There are several versions of the book for sale on the web. There's another one on eBay listed at $525 that looks to be more worn than my copy. Amazon has a "very good" copy for $299.95. Other booksellers have "Very Good" for $239.96, "VG/Fine" for $250.00,and "a lovely copy" for $750.00.

My copy is slightly different from all the others, which claim to be the "first American edition." The content appears to be identical. There are no additional printings listed on the copyright page.

What makes my copy unique is the cover. It's slightly different from the others. It has four cards in a vertical stack (six of clubs, three of hearts, five of spades, eight of diamonds) where all the others have four horizontal cards in a row (five of clubs, ace of hearts, eight of spades, six of diamonds).

I have no idea how that uniqueness affects the value of the book.

If you only care about the content, AbeBooks has a "Softcover" (replica created using print-on-demand technology) edition for $9.69. Or you can read the book online at:

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